Florida starting quarterback John Brantley is expected to return this week for the eagerly anticipated Cocktail Party against Georgia, although no official announcement has yet been made about his status for the prime-time match up.
Brantley, who is listed as probable for the game, has missed Florida’s last two games—both of which were losses against LSU and Auburn—after suffering an ankle injury in the first half of the Alabama game back in Week 5.
Before the injury, Brantley had been enjoying a resurgent season under center in Gainesville, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes and managing to cut down on the mistakes and inefficiency that plagued him in 2010.
If he returns as expected, the senior signal-caller will have to shake off the rust from his weeks-long convalescence period in a hurry, because Georgia’s defense is no joke.
The Bulldogs currently rank sixth in the country in total defense and their talented secondary, led by cornerback Brandon Boykin and safety Bacarri Rambo, is allowing just 171 passing yards per game.
Mark Richt's team also possesses three dangerous pass-rushers—Cornelius Washington, Jarvis Jones and Christian Robinson—that could cause Brantley some major headaches in the pocket.
Brantley could definitely have a tough time getting back in sync against such a a formidable foe.
It also won’t help that two of Florida’s key offensive playmakers—Jeff Demps and Andre Debose—are coming off of injuries.
Even though Brantley has shown improvements under new coordinator Charlie Weis, this is the type of defense that can bring out the worst in a quarterback, especially one that is rusty.
If Brantley does indeed return this weekend, it's likely that he'll endure some early struggles and take some time to get going, and don't be surprised if Georgia finds a way to capitalize on his mistakes.